Tom France put in a star performance as Grove beat Spalding 3-1

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Photo of Tom France in action. Photo by Paul Griffiths.

Tom France scored his first goal since 2017 after recovering from injuries as he helped Kidsgrove to a vital three points home at Spalding United.

The winger who has come back from two ACL injuries also set up Ruben Wiggins-Thomas for the opener, while Lee Williamson scored a penalty at the death as Kidsgrove ran out 3-1 winners.

France was among four changes that Ryan Austin made to the team that lost at Stamford. He started alongside Richard Duffy, Kieran Coates and Williamson.

If Austin wanted his side to make a fast start as they did, then he got it as France put in a fantastic cross to Wiggins-Thomas who had the simplest job in the world to put the ball past Michael Duggan after just five minutes of play.

It got even better just five minutes later when Coates was able to shrug off his man to whip in a low cross into the area. The ball looked like it was going to fall to Anthony Malbon. However, the club captain expertly dummied the ball to France who made no mistake in beating Duggan.

The goal might not have been a 30-yard screamer, but we will probably not see a more popular goal scored at the Autonet Insurance Stadium this season as France was able to banish the ordeal of over the last two years.

Wiggins-Thomas could have had made it 3-0 on 16 minutes when he put a looping header just over the bar from an acute angle. Had it gone in then the Grove could have really run away with the game.

The pace of the game started to slow down as Spalding looked for a way back into the game. However, one wasn’t forthcoming as the Kidsgrove defence held firm.

At the other end, Duggan had to make a fine save to deny Wiggins-Thomas just before the half-time break at he parried away the forwards shot.

Wiggins-Thomas would be wondering how he did get his second goal of the afternoon when France burst down the wing before whipping the ball into the area. The ball fell to the forward, sadly from around five yards out he blazed it over the bar.

With an hour played Austin brought off France for Dylan Bath. The winger got a standing ovation as he left the field of play having put in a fantastic performance showing what the Grove supporters had missed during his injury.

Spalding pulled a goal back on 63 minutes when a free-kick was whipped into the area and, Jamie Jackson was allowed a free header to plant the ball past Kieran Harrison.

Oliver Jepson was close to a third shortly afterwards when he headed the ball against the crossbar. The ball bounced to Kingsley Adu-Gyamfi who saw his shot scrambled away by Duggan.

Adu-Gyamfi should have been awarded a penalty on 69 minutes when he beat Josh Spencer, who tugged him back. However, the referee penalised the young Kidsgrove forward.

However, the referee did point to the spot in the last minute of normal time when Duggan collided with Bath as he headed the ball past him. Williamson stepped up and sent Duggan the wrong way to ensure Spalding steal a point.

The result means that the Grove leapfrog Spalding United and Frickley Athletic into 8th place in the league table ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Chasetown in the Autonet Insurance Stadium.

After the game, I spoke to Ryan Austin to get his thoughts on the win.

Kidsgrove Athletic: Harrison, Coates, Morris, Blake, Duffy, Jepson, France (Bath, 57), Thompson, Wiggins-Thomas (Butler,87), Malbon (Adu-Gyamfi, 56) and Williamson.
Unused sub: Hall

Spalding United: Duggan, Spencer, Hogo, Bucci, Yeomans, Richards (Smith, 85), Bastos, Everington, Brownhill, Floyd (Burrell, 46) and Jackson.
Unused subs: Livingedge, Ramsden and Smith.

Attendance: 169